File puptcrit/puptcrit.0602, message 348

Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2006 22:05:50 -0800
To: "Ramdas Padhye" <>
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Spiderman II

> Dear Greg,
> I am Ramdas Padhye Ventriloquist and Puppeteer from India.I really 
> happy that you are using the puppet techniques for Spiderman-II.First 
> of all congrats to you and all the puppeteers who worked on the film.I 
> am really amazed.What exactly did you operate?Which techinque are you 
> talking about?Let me know.I have seen the film, but where have you 
> used the puppetry techniques in it?
> Let me know.
> Pls visit my website
> Thanks
> Ramdas Padhye.

Ramdas, I am so sorry to have misplaced your e-mail. I should have 
replied much sooner.

I worked with a team of 16 puppeteers and technicians, and mostly we 
worked the tentacles on Doctor Octopus. There were a few other bits but 
that was 99% of it. I personally was the primary performer of the upper 
right tentacle. The Actor we worked with named them all, and mine was 
named Flo. The Upper tentacles and claws were more complicated, and 
worked much better than the lower ones. It could take as many as 5 
people to work  the one tentacle. Typically, I would work the main 
motion of the claw on a rod (a very thick Rod), while one person worked 
the cable controls that operated the claw. Another person might need to 
work the Radio Controlled pincers, and as many as 2 people would 
control  the tentacle itself by means of cables. At other times, I 
would not be holding the rod to the claw, but would attach it to a sort 
of swing arm boom, that was not as precise, but was very fast and 
powerful. There were many other configurations, since the tentacles 
went from about 6 feet in length to over 16. Also, we had several 
different versions of the claws, the pre-explosion fully functional 
claw, post explosion full function claw, simple, lighter claws, soft 
rubber claws for working with the stunt men, etc. In all, I think there 
was about 110 pieces of tentacle and claw, including 2 hand puppet 
claws for some very fine work. Oh, also a Hydraulic foot claw for 
destroying rubble.

So, as to what techniques we used, we really used all of them. I even 
got one shadow shot in the film, where, in the hospital scene, you only 
see the shadow of the tentacle, until the claw is seen in a broken 
piece of mirror on the ground. The reason no one know they were 
puppets, is that the computer graphics guys were able not only to 
remove rods and cables, but big booms, and sometimes even our bodies. 
There were even times when the CG guys would remove the tentacle from a 
shot we had done, leaving in the claw, and replace with a CG tentacle 
that did things we could not.

To me, it is the best merging of puppetry and CG that has been. What I 
find interesting is that shots where Alfred Molina (Doc Oc) wasn't 
wearing the real tentacles, and they were relying only on the CG ones, 
you can really see the difference, not in the tentacles, but in how 
they affect the actor. They give him weight. when they move, he has to 
compensate, and when that isn't there, you can feel it.

The strength of the Puppets were there ability to interact with the 
actors, but also in the director's ability to direct them in real time, 
like actors, and to try things out. Some things were obviously easier 
to do with the puppets, like light a cigar, take off a hat, etc. But 
the ability to just try a shot a few different ways is something that 
is still very expensive and time consuming for CG. I only wish there 
could be more of this kind of puppetry out there....

Greg Ballora
On Jan 16, 2006, at 9:00 AM, Ramdas Padhye wrote:

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